With the WWE announcing that they would be once again initiating a brand extension and NXT’s latest WWE network special being branded “The End,” it led many to speculate as to what it all actually meant. RAW and SmackDown will be divided into two unique rosters, but beyond that, there are still many questions that need to be answered.
Another rumor was added to the mix Wednesday that WWE officials and USA Network execs were discussing the idea of adding a third hour to the new live SmackDown on Tuesday nights. But where does NXT fit into all of it?
NXT Takeover: The End took place Wednesday night, and thankfully for the diehard NXT fans who have seen the product evolve, it is not ending. However, Triple H did tease that idea at the beginning of his Facebook Live session after the special went off the air. Rather, Hunter indicated that “The End” referred to two major elements: The end of the Samoa Joe and Finn Balor rivalry and the end of NXT as a developmental brand but more of an official brand itself. NXT will continue, but it may look a lot different come July.
According to Cageside Seats, WWE is on the verge of raiding the NXT roster as the draft and subsequent brand split loom. Rumors have indicated that the actual draft will take place on July 11 in Detroit, but that has yet to be made official by the WWE. A concern of Triple H’s over the past year or so has been having his NXT roster thinned-out due to WWE call-ups without proper reinforcements ready to take their place. This time, however, he’s more prepared for an exodus, and it’s the only logical move for WWE to be able to fill out two separate rosters. The Game also wanted to make sure that those making their WWE debuts had enough creative support from the writing teams so they wouldn’t get lost in the shuffle and make it appear that NXT couldn’t generate stars at the next level. That shouldn’t be an issue with two different shows and plenty of opportunities to go around.
There appear to be several obvious NXT stars ready to make the jump when Vince McMahon makes the call. Finn Balor, Bayley, and American Alpha have all proven their worth in WWE’s developmental system and now none of them have any titles to tie them down to NXT. Jordan and Gable lost to The Revival Wednesday night, Bayley has been phased out of the championship picture — which has allowed Asuka and Nia Jax to shine — and Balor lost his cage match to Samoa Joe. The only wrinkle among those mentioned is that American Alpha was attacked after their tag team championship match by a debuting group calling themselves The Authors of Pain led by WWE Hall-of-Famer Paul Ellering. That might indicate there’s still a feud to move forward with in NXT, or there’s a chance it could be elevated to the main roster.
Shinsuke Nakamura has also made an immediate impact since arriving in NXT, and it appears only a matter of time before he joins either RAW or SmackDown. However, Triple H hinted that The King of Strong Style may be next in line for a title shot against Samoa Joe. What’s interesting is that NXT’s next network special is on August 20 the night before SummerSlam. The draft will have already taken place with the brand split a month into execution by then. Will NXT stars pull double duty, will some have been called up full-time, or will WWE simply wait until NXT Takeover: Brooklyn wraps to complete the purge?
With the likes of Finn Balor, Jordan and Gable, Bayley, Nakamura, and even Joe ready for the call to WWE, Triple H will certainly need to replenish his roster and main event scene. Hideo Itami is expected to return in the next couple months, if not sooner, and this has been the main catalyst for signing Bobby Roode and Eric Young. With Roode and Young coupled with Austin Aries and maybe Joe for a little longer, NXT may resemble the main event scene of 2013-15 of TNA.
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